DAILY BRIEFINGFairy Land
Jun. 17 - I've often referred to Denmark as a fairyland, a magical and mysterious realm thriving in the midst of modernity. The Danes themselves seem eager to promote this impression. Their primary cultural exports are the fairy-tales of Hans Christian Andersen. The most celebrated icon in their most visited harbor is a statue of a mermaid. They wean their children off pacifiers with a magical tree. Fireworks illuminate the capitol every night from spring through fall. Their parks are enchanted places from another age. So strong is the magic in this land that they still have to burn witches every summer.
But maybe Denmark has begun to take their magic a little too much for granted. Consider this line from the brochure of a hotel we'll be staying at on our little Danish vacation in early July (I present the English-language text verbatim):
...It is never far to Norway and Sweden when you stay at Old Albęk Inn. There are many daily fairy departures from Frederikshavn and Hirtshals.The bit goes on to boast of Albęk's "narrow and cosy streets" and "the harbour where sailing holidaymakers are also welcome." Those are intriguing bits of public relations in themselves, but what are we to make of the daily fairy departures from two nearby cities?
Do the fairies give piggy-back rides? Is that how it works? Do they pull enchanted rickshaws? Are they harnessed into teams to pull carriages? Or what? I think it would be a hell of a thing to soar from Jutland to Norway in a fairy-driven coach-and-four. Do we need reservations?
The existence of these daily fairy departures raises some interesting questions. For example: why do the fairies only run between Denmark, Norway, and Sweden? Does their magic expire outside the enchanted air of Scandinavia? What about Iceland—do any fairies fly between Denmark and Iceland? If so, why don't more America-bound Danes take fairies to Iceland and connect to conventional airlines at Rejkavik ?
I've seen documentaries on state-run television about almost every aspect of Danish life and culture, past and present—everything from the nation's history, development, and cuisine to the process of hair removal from the scrotum—how did the fairies get left out? Are foreigners not supposed to know about them? If so, why were they mentioned in English? Was it a mistake? By bringing this to your attention, have I cost some poor Danish typesetter or copy editor their career? Their life? Or do they merely take the Danes who've violated the Secret of the Fairies and exile them to Germany?
Interesting questions, all of them. No answers on Google, and the DMG ain't talkin'. So you're on your own, kids.
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On this day in 1775, American forces were defeated by the British at Breed's Hill, near Boston, in the Battle of Bunker Hill, after famously withholding their fire until they could see the whites of their enemies' eyes. This battle should not be confused with that of Breed's Hill, fought on Bunker Hill, during which the Americans shot like hell at anything that moved.
Thirty years ago today, on the evening of June 17, 1972, five men broke into the Democratic Party National Committee headquarters at the Watergate building in Washington, DC. They had hoped to bug the offices but were arrested before they could release any insects. Their arrests ultimately led to President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974. (Nixon's resignation prior to 1974 is attributed to simple melancholy.)
Today is Constitution Day in Iceland, and the birthday of Venus Williams (1980), Joe Piscopo (1951), Barry Manilow (1946), Newt Gingrich (1943), Ralph Bellamy (1904), M.C. Escher (1898), and Igor Stravinski (1882).
© 2004, The Moron's Almanac